Day 5

June 28, 2003
Ortahisar
Near midnight.

A video interview, a visit to an underground city, a quick stop in Urgup, rooftop supper, and a Turkish wedding. I’m tired, but will write what I can, so I remember it.

We interviewed the weavers today, and recorded them on video. Ellen drafted a list of anthropological questions which she copied for Hatice. I added in a few others, mostly extra questions about their experiences with textiles and textile work. Weavers Hatice and Lutfiye sat side by side in front of their looms, as Ellen read her questions to young Hatice, who translated them into Turkish, and then translated the weavers’ answers, with Ellen writing furiously to transcribe everything. Jen ran the formal camera on a tripod, and I sat on the sidelines and documented the parts which seemed most interesting to me. Wound up with some wonderful things on the tapes, including the bride’s wedding song (as sung by Hatice, Lutfiye, and young Hatice, and then explained by young Hatice) and a demonstration/explanation of spinning using a doll, some yarn, and a couple of pens. The whole interview went on for an hour and forty-five minutes.

Then we went to Hatice’s house and met up with the taxi driver, who drove us to Derinkuyu, one of the partially excavated and restored underground cities in the region. Ellen’s pages from the Blue Guide suggested that it was usually crowded with tourists and could be stuffy, sweaty, and uncomfortable, with long lines for everything. It was all but deserted. A freelance guide attached himself to us, and told us a lot about daily life in these immense, multi-level, underground spaces. Early Christians hid from their enemies, and as many as 10,000 may have lived there for a month at a time. Rooms for animals, people, a school, church, all carved in the volcanic tufa. Wells, hidden chimneys, ventilator shafts, winding tunnels and traps. Nine levels hae been opened and restored. We went through five of them.
… I’m too sleepy, I’ll continue in the morning. Remember feeling cool and damp, winding steep steps and walking fast while crouching through the low tunnels and doorways. How to get in shape, we decided, the Derinkuyu aerobics plan.

Went to Urgup to visit the bank machines, but my account wouldn’t authorize any withdrawal. I may need to settle up with Ellen after we get home. We pooled resources to pay for the taxi, which was twice as expensive as day before yesterday, for half as much time - turns out he sets the fare based on distance, and the underground city is a longish drive away. I would feel bad about that, but he did so much driving, and made so many helpful suggestions on the Avanos, Zelve, Goreme day that I feel as if it evened out. Market day in Urgup, and I took some pictures in the bazaar.

After a short pause at Barbara’s (I napped), we went to Hatice’s house for supper on the roof. Kamile made manti, a variation of a Kayseri specialty. Hers is made with little bowtie noodles and a thin red sauce with ground meat in it. The noodles are tossed with a little yogurt and lots of garlic before the sauce is added. We ate bread with this, and then many pieces of thirst-quenching sweet watermelon for dessert. The sun set as we were eating.

I’m far too sleepy to go on now, so I’ll write about the wedding tomorrow morning. What people wore. Concentric circles, string of lights, all heads turning, sunflower seeds, the boys watching, festive gunfire. Walking home in a group of women.

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